Siem Reap, Cambodia
Siem Reap has been called the “perfect destination” for first time travelers to Asia. This capital city in northwestern Cambodia is easy to get around, and you’ll find attractions on nearly every corner, with friendly people, lots of history, culture, nightlife, museums, markets and opportunities for relaxing as well as taking part in adventurous activities. When the morning light washes across the temples and ruins of Angkor Wat, the city looks like a breathtaking painting come to life. Its ancient structures are found within one of the largest religious complexes in the world, with this complex and the 12 century Angkor Thom royal city, an expression of the true genius, considered the main reasons to visit. You can also get a fascinating lesson in national history at the Cambodian Cultural Village.
Beijing offers a vibrant mix of modernity and history, and as China’s capital for over 800 years, it’s also home to some of the finest remnants of the country’s imperial past. Its wealth of history includes the ancient, such as the Ming Tombs, a mausoleum of 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty; Forbidden City, The Great Wall, originally built between 220 and 206 BC by the first Emperor of China, and the Hall of Preserving Harmony, as well as more recent relics like Tiananmen Square, the largest city square in the world, and Chairman Mao Memorial Hall. The city has several shopping districts offering a mind-boggling variety of goods. In addition to its traditional shopping districts, like Wangfujing Street and Qianmen Street, the lively outdoor markets should not be missed, though the Dirt Market offers the best experience as compared to the touristy Silk Market
The charming Vietnamese capital is different than other Asian capitals as a graceful collage of cultural influences from the French and Chinese, yet still retaining local Vietnamese ways. It’s aged well, with the well-preserved Old Quarter, a maze of streets more than 1,000 years old set between the city’s famed Hoan Kiem Lake, the Red River and the few walls that remain of the Hanoi Citadel along with monuments and colonial architecture sitting alongside modern developments. Hanoi has not forgotten its past, as the only city in Southeast Asia with an embalmed leader on display – the body of Ho Chi Men lies preserved in a mausoleum, against his own wish to be cremated. Pretty parks, lakes, shady boulevards and more than 600 temples and pagodas add to the appeal of Hanoi, which can easily be explored by taxi.
Seminyak boasts some of the most glorious beaches in Bali along with legendary sunsets. It caters to those who are looking for a luxurious experience with numerous fashionable, upscale eateries and bars along with a sophisticated, laid-back atmosphere. While the smooth stretches of sand are the biggest draw, visitors are also enticed by the indulgent spas and practically endless shopping opportunities. The city seamlessly merges with Kerobokan, immediately to the north, with the many restaurants combining to give visitors some of the greatest variety of style and budget in Bali.
Bangkok is the perfect blend of old and new, East and West, along with the romance of the Chao Phraya River, which is intertwined with the city it flows through. Golden palaces, floating markets and magnificent porcelain-laid spires are just a few of the other reasons to visit. The Grand Palace is a must, as a compound of palaces and temples where you’ll discover Thailand’s most important relic, the Emerald Buddha, a fifteenth-century sculpture that’s actually made of jade. Unwind in the European-style gardens of Dusit after hitting up Siam Square or Pratunam for shipping and don’t miss visiting Phra Nakhon, which hosts the Wat Pho temple of the Reclining Buddha.